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Mount Zion Baptist Church History

August 11, 1847

Fifteen members of the Broad Run Baptist Church (nine white and six Negroes) withdrew their membership because of a dispute to constitute a Church in Warrenton. They came into Warrenton by way of Alexandria Pike and started their meetings in Miss Harriet Swift’s schoolroom, which was the ground floor of the Odd Fellows Hall, until such time as a regular meeting house could be constructed.

On December 7th, 1849

A deed from W. H. Gaines conveyed to the trustees of the Warrenton Baptist Church a lot on the corner of First and Main Street.  This building was used as a church and also a hospital during the Civil War. The Negro membership increased.

In 1872 research showed that all colored members were stricken from the church roll except three females, two being Julia Brooks and Matilda Evans, the rest withdrew.

In 1876 research shows that after leaving the Warrenton Baptist Church the colored members organized in a frame building that stood on Calhoun Street directly in back of T.N. Fletcher Jr. Property. They called their organization the Zion Baptist Church.

Later a disagreement arose among the congregation of a trivia matter. The church split and a faction withdrew their membership and formed another congregation and called themselves the First Baptist Church and worshiped in a frame building which was the old Episcopal Church on Alexandria Pike. The other faction remained on Calhoun Street and worshiped for a number of years.

Meanwhile, the Reverend Dennis, Pastor of First Baptist decided to leave the church located on Alexandria Pike and the church called Rev. George Horner to the pastorate. Although he did well as a pastor some members wanted a new pastor, Rev. Hines. Consequently another split occurred and many of the members left with Rev. Horner to establish another church on Third Street in 1883.

The members who left with Rev. Horner joined with those who then came from Calhoun Street and started meeting in the Odd Fellows Hall. Rev. T. T. Hall presided as a moderator. Rev. Horner was officially elected as Pastor serving every second Sunday with fifty-three members on the roll. They continued to assemble in the Odd Fellow Hall.

The old Zion Church building on Calhoun Street was completely destroyed by a tornado in 1889. The deed shows that a lot on South Third Street was bought by the trustees in 1884; a frame building was erected and was renamed Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Women were a vital part of the construction process including hauling hauling cement and other building material.  One such woman was Mrs. Eliza Murray.

The first dollar for the land was donated by Mrs. Harriet Allen and the first marriage performed was that of the late Deacon Julius and Lucy Nickens.

Mt. Zion Church has been blessed with many dedicated, industrious, and faithful pastors.  Rev. Horner served until his death in 1915. He was preceded by Reverend
L. W. Marshall until 1915.

The third pastor, Rev. Alfred Gwafney pastured for two years, until 1917.

The fourth pastor instituted Sunday Services to be held three Sundays a month; he was James D. Pair who served for twenty years.

The fifth pastor, Rev. J. W. Woodson was elected and served twelve years. It’s been said that during Pastor Woodson’s era four Sundays was adopted.

From 1950 to 1961 Rev. Ernest B. Cunningham was chosen as the sixth pastor to lead the flock. 

In 1962 Rev. Frederick Smith was elected as the seventh pastor and was leader until his death.

The eighth pastor of Mt. Zion, Rev. James Little was called in 1981 and served one year and five months.  During his tenure five Sundays was initiated.

Our ninth spiritual leader, the Rev. Moyer Foddrell, Jr., was called on February 15, 1984 and installed on July 29, 1984. Pastor Foddrell had great vision for this church, i.e, Praise in the Park, renovation of the church, buying a bus, new van and we can go on and on and on. Kudos to Pastor Foddrell.

Our tenth pastor, Keith McCullough, will be installed on April 2, 2017.  We are looking forward to the next chapter in the history of Mount Zion.

Reference – 1. Old Broad Run Baptist Church Minutes by Charles Jefferies

2. Court documents from Fauquier County
3. 100 Anniversary Manual of First Baptist
4. Personal Interviews
5. Information supplied by AAHA

Revised by: Church Clerk (Sister Helena T. Carter) November 18, 2007
Submitted by: Church Historian (Minister Lemuel Montgomery)